Wisdom teeth removal

Wisdom teeth removal means having one or more of the third molars (your wisdom teeth) at the back of your mouth taken out. This can sometimes involve a surgical procedure.

Your wisdom teeth are the last four of the large grinding teeth (molars) at the back of your mouth to come through. You’re likely to have them by the time you reach your mid-twenties, though some people find they come through earlier or later than this.

Sometimes, your wisdom teeth don’t come through properly, meaning they’re impacted. This can cause problems such as pain, swelling and infection. Having your wisdom teeth taken out can ease these symptoms.

Why would I need to have my wisdom teeth removed?

Having your wisdom teeth removed is one of the most common procedures done in the UK. It’s usually done in your late teens or twenties, when your wisdom teeth come through.

Preparing for wisdom teeth removal

Your dentist will ask you to have an X-ray before having a wisdom tooth removed, so they can see the exact position of the tooth in the gum. This will allow your dentist to work out the best way to perform the extraction of wisdom teeth. Often, wisdom tooth removal is a straightforward procedure that your dentist will be able to do at the dental practice, under local anaesthesia.

If your tooth looks like it will be more difficult to remove, your dentist may need to refer you to a specialist oral surgeon. You’ll need to have the procedure in hospital, and you may be offered general anaesthesia.

Your nurse or surgeon will discuss with you what will happen before you have the procedure, including any wisdom tooth removal pain you might have. If you’re unsure about anything, please just ask. Being fully informed will help you feel more at ease and will allow you to give your consent for the procedure to go ahead.

What are the alternatives to wisdom teeth removal?

If your wisdom teeth aren’t causing you any problems, even if they’re impacted, then you won’t need to have them taken out.

If your dentist thinks there’s a high risk of the nerves around your tooth being damaged, you may be offered a coronectomy. This is a procedure where the crown of the tooth is taken out but some of the root is left in place. This may help to reduce the chances of nerves around your tooth being damaged.

What happens during wisdom teeth removal?

Smiling woman in dentist chair with smiling clinician with face mask and clip board

The procedure for removing your wisdom teeth will vary, depending on how difficult your teeth are to take out. Upper wisdom teeth are usually easier to remove than lower ones. Your dentist can tell you exactly what to expect.

If you’re having your wisdom teeth removed at your dental practice, you’ll usually have it done under local anaesthesia. The local anaesthetic will completely block pain from your gums, but you will stay awake while your wisdom teeth are being removed. If you’re a nervous patient, you may be offered sedation as well as local anaesthesia. This helps you to relax.

If you’re having your wisdom teeth taken out in hospital, you may be offered general anaesthesia. If you have a general anaesthetic, you’ll be asleep during the procedure.

Once the anaesthetic has taken effect, your dentist or surgeon will use special tools to gradually ease your tooth out, cutting into the gum if necessary. If your dentist or surgeon has cut into your gum, you may need dissolving stitches to close the wound.

What to expect afterwards

What happens after you have your wisdom teeth removed will depend on the type of anaesthesia you have. If you have general anaesthesia or sedation, make sure someone can take you home. And ask someone to stay with you for a day or so while the anaesthetic wears off.

After local anaesthesia, it may take several hours before the feeling comes back into your face and jaw. Take special care not to bump or knock the area. Don’t eat or drink anything for the first six hours after the procedure. You might have some discomfort as the anaesthetic wears off. But you'll be offered pain relief as you need it. You will be able to go home when you feel ready.

Your dentist or oral surgeon should give you some advice about looking after your teeth and gums before you go home. You may be given painkillers and mouthwash to use at home. You may also be prescribed a course of antibiotics to take, if there are signs that you have an infection when your tooth is taken out.

How much does wisdom teeth removal cost?

You can get a wisdom tooth removed on the NHS if it is causing you pain and discomfort. The costs vary in England/Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Contact your local practice to find out more. Some people are exempt from NHS dental charges, for example if you are pregnant or if you receive certain benefits or income support.

Private wisdom tooth removal costs can vary widely by practice and depend on the complexity of the procedure. We are transparent about our pricing and won’t carry out any work until we’ve gone through a full treatment plan with you, and you’ve agreed to the costs involved.

Recovering from wisdom teeth removal

Side-effects of wisdom teeth removal

The main side-effects from wisdom teeth removal include:

  • Pain, swelling and bruising around your jaw
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Tiredness
  • Sensitive teeth around where the tooth was removed

Most people don't have any problems after having their wisdom teeth removed. You should seek medical advice if you are still experiencing symptoms after two or three days.

We have a network of dentists across the UK that are passionate about dentistry and are happy to answer your questions and offer advice. Wisdom teeth removal is just one of the many treatments we offer.

Find your local Bupa Dental Care practice using the search below and get in touch

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Bupa Dental Care is a trading name of Oasis Dental Care Limited. Registered in England and Wales No: 00478127. Registered office: Bupa Dental Care, Vantage Office Park, Old Gloucester Road, Hambrook, Bristol, United Kingdom BS16 1GW.

Oasis Dental Care Limited has a number of trading names including Bupa Dental Care. For a list of all our different trading names please follow this link.

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